My friend Claudia Mair Burney and I have a couple things in common. We are both religious misfits. We are both writers. We are both mothers. And we are both chronic pain survivors.
Awhile back, when I was in a period of struggling with pain and the way it limited my work, Claudia sent me a list of things she’d done while laid up with pain. She called her list “Things I’ve Done From Bed.” She wrote novels. She raised children. She saved a marriage.
It helped. Seeing her list rolling out long in that email. It helped.
Because of this pain, I work in a unique way. I work small. I work in tiny steps and short spurts. I have to be very realistic about my situation and work within that reality. Just dreaming big is not enough. I have to work too, in this really uncommon manner. I may not get as much done as others I admire. But I do the work of my hands, every day. Every. Day.
I thought I was getting better, moving out of the pain, but lately I think maybe not so much. And sometimes, this just really breaks me down. I look at my life stretching long in front of me and think, “Really, another 40 years of this pain?” Then I look at my children and think, “Yes, of course. As many years as I can get.”
So I’m making my list now, in the little window of hopefulness that I have today, in case the shades snap down again. So I can remember what I can still do. So I can recall that small is beautiful — even if you have to do most of it from bed.
1. Became famous among dozens for helping “recovering evangelicals.”
2. Wrote several hundred posts on postmodernism as the Urban Abbess.
3. Wrote 453 posts on “soulcare for flibbertigibbets” as Magpie Girl.
4. Left my tribe and formed a new one.
5. Introduced arts and liturgy to the Seattle Vineyard.
6. Kept a dozen or so folks from committing spiritual suicide.
7. Became a spiritual director.
8. Got one tall, beautiful, intelligent girl to 11.
9. Got a coy, cute, crafty little girl to 9.
10. Managed to keep a woflpup’s head above water until manhood.
11. Made sure my husband did not live a boring life in the suburbs.
12. Created a sense of home for any number of people around the holidays.
13. Built shrines and holy spaces.
14. Created a dozen guiding catch phrases.
15. Produced seasonal zines.
16. Created a series of postmodern saints cards.
17. Submitted book proposals.
18. Landed a literary agent.
19. Decided that I didn’t want to go the traditional publishing route.
20. Published a children’s book POD.
21. Published a photography and essay book POD.
22. Started an on-line play along.
23. Started a Do Less Revolution.
24. Helped people (at least begin) to form their Soultribes.
25. Created an online brand.
26. Sold alternative prayer beads for alternative souls.
27. Joined a wonderful writers groups, who catapulted me through roadblocks.
28. Taught at conference, colleges, and churches.
29. Learned how to celebrate the Jewish feasts.
30. Bought a house, made a home.
31. Adopted a boy and a dog.
32. Made life easier for a few kindergartners.
33. Supported an urban school.
34. Navigated complicated medical systems.
35. Been present.
36. Learned the guitar.
37. Learned to knit.
38. Kept in touch with far-flung friends and family.
39. Nurtured a virtual community.
40. Never. Stopped. Trying.
What do you think? Did I miss any?